Tuesday, 17 June 2008

How "buying agents" clearly have no idea who has the best parties...

One of the interesting things about the Kennington News blog is that the author of it clearly uses some sort of online news gathering software which just picks out the word "Kennington", whatever the article might be about. This is useful in that the blog includes everything from articles vaguely relating to Kennington (it just so happens that the last block of "blue" aeroplane toilet ice landed through the roof of a couple in Kennington) to those that are highly relevant (advertisements of church fetes, local plays etc.). It also means that any bias against negative news is entirely bypassed as everything that hits the word is covered.

This article on How buying agents found my dream home in London caught my eye today. I am, in one sense rather glad that Kennington - SE11 - will not become occupied in the immediate future by those who do not want to live in a mixed society - rich, middle-income and poor; black, brown and white; Buddhist, Muslim and Christian; gay, bi and straight, all next door to one another. In another sense, I am, quite frankly shocked that somebody would consider the threat of being mugged (on the word of one person) as a reason not to move to the area! As an aside, it is probably the fact that I have spent so much time trudging around all of the back streets around here that I refuse to be afraid (or maybe I really am just foolish) of moving to SE11. I mean who, in their right mind, goes to a local police station and asks how safe an area is? Most police stations only see the worst of an area. I always remember with admiration a friend of mine who said, "everyone told me not to send my children to that school because they would learn nothing, but nobody seemed to think of the fact that the other children at the school might benefit from having my children there".

I think Kennington is a particularly fascinating area because it is one of those places that it is impossible to gentrify. Whilst there will always exist large Georgian and Victorian properties worth millions, those houses and flats will always (I hope) sit alongside 1920s and post-WW2 local authority housing. Long may this coninue, because I think that such social mixing is vital for any area. I do not think that this country is one in which the poor will be less poor, anytime soon (whilst many people say that they want this, it's not clear to me that many people have enacted a viable corporate politic that might make it concrete). But neither do I consider that those who are wealthy should be allowed to cocoon themselves off in boring little safehavens where they might never be accosted by somebody that smells bad. Why is it assumed that people should want (if they are rich) or should be forced (if they are poor) to live in places where everybody else there is like them?

Anyhow, there's no doubt that Regent's Canal beats the SE11 gas cylinders... But perhaps it's me, or maybe not; I think that Kennington, Oval, Vauxhall, Stockwell, Elephant, Brixton and their surrounds still possess something that pulls the kind of people who choose (or are forced) to stick two fingers up in the face of the risk of "crime" and say, "to hell with north London, where is everybody else?"

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